This is a short review because I did not completely finish the book. This is one of the books that borrowed from Kindle Unlimited. I was close to finished (72%) when my subscription ended. So I waffled back and forth a bit about writing up a review. In the end, I decided to write it mostly because I needed the reviews.
Parini is a literature professor. So in writing a biography of Jesus he is moving outside his primarily area of academic study. Although he is fluent in ancient Greek and has studied both New Testament and other literature from the era.
Parini’s desire for the book is to ‘re-mythologize’ Jesus. He is not a fan of the traditional Jesus Seminar methods of trying to strip away all of the supernatural from Jesus. Parini, as a literature professor, understands that in stripping away the supernatural, the Jesus Seminar methods are also stripping away a lot of the purpose behind telling those supernatural stories.
Also it is important to understand what Parini means by myth. He is using it in an academic meaning. He does not mean, ‘did not happen’ or ‘fictional’, although that may be true. What Parnini means by myth is the origin story, the deeper story that gives meaning. Myth for Parnini is not about the difference between history or fairytale, but about meaning intended behind the story. (This video by NT Wright is helpful on this point.)
So I had hope for the book. But the actual book did not really live up to its purpose. I like to read different steams of Christianity and I have read a number of classic liberal Protestant authors that I found valuable to expand some of the ways I think about my theology and language. But for the most part, Panini was writing a fairly standard party line book that was mostly focused on Jesus as teacher and model of right human relationships and not much else.
I probably could have finished the book before the subscription ended, but I really was just getting bored with the book.
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